The Office of Student Legislative Affairs and Associated Student Government teamed up in support of the idea that students should be involved in the political process as actively as possible, hosting a mock caucus and Q-and-A open to all BC students on Monday, March 7.
At the nearly day-long event, volunteer Bellevue College students acted as the current presidential nomination candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties, answering questions posed by event attendees who were expected to vote for one candidate at some point during the caucus.
“Everyone’s voice should be heard in the government,” said Vanessa Ross, ASG vice president of external legislative affairs, who organized the event. “For student issues to be heard and cared about, we need to have a large student voice in the political process,” she said, explaining how the president in office should reflect the majority opinion of their constituency including the young people that have been historically less likely to vote.
The event was held in C130, half of which was for the democratic candidates, the other half for the republican candidates. It was a two-part event with the first session held between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and the second held between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Though some of the volunteers who represented the candidates rotated throughout the day because of scheduling conflicts, the information they presented and the stances they took were consistent throughout the day because of the “cheat sheets” they were given. The information on the sheets was sourced from the candidate’s websites and PBS, and was compiled by OSLA before the event.
The candidates represented at the event were Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich.
Also at the event were two representatives from the Bernie Sanders Campaign in Washington. The mock caucus was not publicized outside of BC, but approximately a week before the event, the Sanders campaign reached out to Ross asking if BC was doing anything to increase student awareness of the Democratic caucus, to which she replied by sharing about the OSLA’s bipartisan mock caucus. The campaign offered representatives to attend the event, to which Ross agreed. “To my knowledge, no other campaigns have reached out to me or student government,” Ross said.
Jameson Knopp, who performed as Ted Cruz, and Nathanael Lottis, who performed as Marco Rubio, spoke about their experiences representing candidates who they didn’t pay much attention to before the event.
Knopp, who considers himself a highly progressive Democrat, said he used to dislike the Republican Party as a whole, admitting to generalizing the policies the establishment supports and noting sensational policies that he disagrees with such as building a wall across the southern U.S. border. “Now, having actually looked at the policies, I can pinpoint what I do and don’t like about the various Republican candidates,” he said. “I now consider Kasich to be the height of reason as far as the current Republican candidates are concerned.”
Lottis, who said he leans to the far left on the political spectrum, now has “a bit more respect for Rubio,” having learned of some of his policies that he considers decent. “However, his position on sustainable energy is horrible, which is deeply concerning to me.”
The results of both sessions were tallied at the end of the day. Sanders received 38 votes, Clinton received 17, Trump received six, Cruz received five, Rubio received two and Kasich received none Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump went on to the BC presidential debate on Monday, March 14.
“I only wish that we had gotten more people to participate,” Knopp said. “We as students need to take more than a cursory glance at our futures, of which politics will play a large part.”